Bulgarian pottery is one of the best kept secrets of the Balkans.  The Troyan style is a classic Bulgarian art form, and displays how the country has been at the crossroads between East and West for millennia.




Troyan pottery midway through the firing process

Troyan pottery midway through the firing process

Whimsical patters that evoke peacock feathers, tears, and the evil eye that symbolize this stellar yet turbulent region.  Out of respect for their privacy I am not posting their pictures; but their collective work does a fine job representing what Bulgaria is about.




Here are a the quick bios of three Bulgarian pottery artisans:

Krassi's Baby Blue

Krassi's Baby Blue

Krassi Stancheva was born and raised in Troyan and is a graduate of The Troyan School of Ceramics. She has been creating in the Troyan style for 32 years and employs 6 artisans. Krassi is married with a grown daughter and enjoys swimming, hiking, reading and creating new designs.  Her colors are vibrant:  the greens and blues in which she bathes her pieces are stunning.  Krassi’s work is available by special order from Bulgarian Pottery and Gifts; at press time orders takes about two months as each piece is handmade, hand painted, and needs time to cross the pond to North America.

Ivan's yellow line

Ivan's yellow line

Ivan Jovchevsky operates a workshop that employs six workers in Troyan, Bulgaria. Ivan hails from an artisan family and has been designing and producing Troyan style pottery for 13 years. Ivan is 38, Single, and enjoys motocross in his spare time.  His work is meticulous and stands out for the intricacy of his patterns.  His baby blue and yellow lines are available through Bulgarian Pottery and Gifts warehouse in Pennsylvania; my personal favorite color of Ivan’s, the black, needs to be special ordered, along with his other patterns.

Plamen's Rose line, a sample bowl he gave to me in Nov. 2011

Plamen's Rose line, a sample bowl he gave to me in Nov. 2011

Plamen Danchev is a native of Troyan and a graduate of The Troyan School of Ceramics. His collection employs the Graffito technique.  Plamen has been working with pottery for fifteen years and employs 14 artisans.  He is married with three children. Plamen has no spare time, but if he did, he would write a book while cruising on a river boat.  He has branched beyond the traditional Troyan ceramic craft, manufacturing and exporting ceramic chimneys to Serbia and cooking vessels to the Greek Islands.

cup made in Plamen's workshop using the graffito method

cup made in Plamen's workshop using the graffito method

One technique Plamen has adopted is Graffito, a technique that originated in Italy.  The word means “to scratch” in Italian, and was adopted from Byzantium during the 12th Century.  Graffito pieces are double fired and typically features geometrical etchings of animals or vegetables. In Bulgaria, Graffito is referred to the Tarnovo style.  Names after Veliko Tarnovo, the capital of Bulgaria during the 12th Century, remnants of such pottery dating as far back as 900 years have been found during excavations in the area.  Plamen’s work can be special ordered from Bulgarian Pottery and Gifts.

If you ever are fortunate enough to visit Bulgaria, pack lightly; you’ll need the room to take these incredible and colorful pieces home.

the countryside around Troyan, Bulgaria

the countryside around Troyan, Bulgaria

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.